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« Shale fights back? | Main | Energy policy isn't working »

Less science, more comms

Barry Woods points us to today's webcast of the IPCC discussing its future communications strategy. I've just heard someone say that the IPCC reports need to have less of that complicated and very dull science stuff and much more simple messaging. Apparently science writers need to be involved from the front.

Unfortunately I can't spend all day watching this, but if anyone can bear it do let us know if they say anything new.

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Reader Comments (35)

The problem for the IPCC (and any other warmist institution) is that they can readily say dull, complicated science stuff, usually statistically based, which can be bent to steer around the truth, sound vaguely dangerous, and be justified to some extent using technical minutiae.

Dull, complicated science can be made to be all things to all men - so they can interpret it to be scary for journalists, yet reasonable to members of the Royal Society and other scientific institutes.

But if they say something simple it will be a lie. And, what is worse, an easily disproven lie.

So they are likely to be stuck...

Feb 9, 2016 at 9:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterDodgy Geezer

After 20 minutes watching live stream, I sincerely hopes that the delegates will not die of boredom.
The risk for that is not insignificant.

Feb 9, 2016 at 9:52 AM | Unregistered CommenterBengt Abelsson

really dull

there was this though...

#IPCCOslo "still fighting the Hiatus battle" - between AR4 and AR5 not much seemed to have changed
and reporters were looking for something new, so focused on 'hiatus'.

Feb 9, 2016 at 9:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

Andy Revkin reported that there was some resistance in actually doing a webcast! - bcos - Internet

so thanks 2 Andy for helping make it happen

"....Until Saturday, resistance from some participants almost prevented the workshop from being streamed online so that interested people anywhere in the world could watch the presentations. After questions were raised (by me and presumably others), a public webcast was set up, along with a Twitter hashtag (#IPCCoslo), allowing participants and viewers to exchange thoughts in a wall-free way." - Revkin

Feb 9, 2016 at 10:02 AM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

Don't worry. It will be alright. That talented science writer Richard Black is there.

Feb 9, 2016 at 10:05 AM | Unregistered CommenterCebe

Don't worry. It will be alright. That talented science fiction writer Richard Black is there

Isn't that what you meant to write?

Feb 9, 2016 at 10:12 AM | Unregistered Commenterivan

Science is a bit of a bummer if you are on a mission that you cannot bear to be distracted from. Perhaps because it is lucrative for you. Perhaps because you like a quiet life. Perhaps because you have an entire planet to save. Pesky science looks for data, looks to test ideas, looks to challenge the status quo - all a bit disturbing when you feel you have a perfectly convenient set of ideas already thank you very much.

This chap has some highly relevant experience to relate:

But when you reach out to them, as I did with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and they do not return your phone calls, they do not share data, they do not respond to FOIA [open-records requests], y’know. … In each case I just started asking questions and turning over rocks, and I resolved to myself, The second something slimy doesn’t come out, I’m gonna go home. But every single rock you turn over, something slimy comes out.

Feb 9, 2016 at 10:57 AM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

The hiatus was forecast by the IPCC, and the longer it goes on just proves how right they were. That weather events continue to happen, with the same degree of monotony, just demonstrates why climate science needs more funding, and more working holidays in tropical island paradises.

Monotony of weather, must be matched by a monotony of warnings, about worse things to happen, in this unprecedented world.

Feb 9, 2016 at 11:00 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Wasn't always the case that they released the policy maker's report some time before the full science version ? In case anyone decided to check if they matched when the spotlight of the world was on them.

Feb 9, 2016 at 11:37 AM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

Where is Jules Verne when you need him?

Feb 9, 2016 at 11:59 AM | Unregistered Commentertoorightmate

Adam Corner just asked a question..

Feb 9, 2016 at 12:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

The Royal Society (sic) is already heading down this route, having awarded its Science Book Prize recently to Gaia Vince. Her book on the Anthropocene has a bit of Greenpeace-distorted science but is mostly a travelogue for anti-cap tourists.

Feb 9, 2016 at 12:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterMikky

The IPCC needs to look more scientific for a very important task. In Para.21 of the Paris Agreement it has been invited to provide a load more global warming impact scenarios, not doubt to scare countries into cutting emissions. Given the IPCC's track record, they need some pseudo-credibility.

Feb 9, 2016 at 12:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterKevin Marshall

It's break time it seems

PCC ‏@IPCC_CH 8m8 minutes ago

Live webcast of #IPCCOslo meeting on communications will resume at 5.15pm Oslo time (

Twitter hashtag #IPCCOslo
Ross Gillard
‏Bypass the politicians and go straight to the implementers to get IPCC reports and recommendations moving #IPCCOslo #climatechange

Tom Nelson @tan123
Might voters get mad if U "bypass" their elected representatives to implement policy that they dislike? #IPCCOslo

Feb 9, 2016 at 12:45 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

Anyone mention 'showing up for debates' instead of running away ?

or 'Tell the truth, perspective and context' ?

Feb 9, 2016 at 12:55 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

John Cook giving the IPCC advice on which comms graphics to use (breakout session)

ii. 14.45-17.15 Break-out sessions
A. Recommendations on improving readability, clarity and policy relevance of the IPCC reports
(including scoping; use of language experts, science writers, graphics designers; summary
for citizens of the world; translation; training on presentations; use of video, animations and
Co-Chairs: Richard Black, Debra Roberts
Rapporteur: John Cook
Rapporteur for Communications Strategy: Christiane Textor
Participants to include: David Budescu
Advance papers

Feb 9, 2016 at 12:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

They still not learned that not matter how much time and effort you put into it , your still trying to polish a turd .

Feb 9, 2016 at 1:08 PM | Unregistered Commenterknr

Cook has a slot tomorrow am

15. 09.15-09.30 Tackling misinformation and misconceptions
Chair : Christian Bjørnæs
Presenter : John Cook
Advance paper

Feb 9, 2016 at 1:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

If they're taking comms advice from John Cook they're doomed. SkS posts struggle to get comments in double figures these days, some have zero. Similar situation at Real Climate.

Feb 9, 2016 at 1:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterGavin

With regards to comms, I was watching Countryfile the other night and they slipped in a bit about what to do with more extreme weather. They were stating this like it is likely that there will be more extreme weather.

Just goes to show if you say something long enough ...

Feb 9, 2016 at 1:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterMicky H Corbett

"John Cook giving the IPCC advice on which comms graphics to use (breakout session)"


This childish oaf whose main claim to fame (other than a rather unpleasant Number Two on Lew papers) is a self-photoshopped graphic of himself in a Nazi uniform? This is clearly another diversity exercise by the IPCC - care in the community for genocidally-fixated failed cartoonists.

Feb 9, 2016 at 1:52 PM | Registered Commenterflaxdoctor

"need to have less of that complicated and very dull science stuff"

This is a smart move. The less science presented means the less people will see how sh*tty the science is.


Feb 9, 2016 at 1:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterBad Andrew

You know climate science has a credibility failure when they have to rely on John Cook.

Feb 9, 2016 at 2:00 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

John Cook article in the Groaniad. He's a 100% nut who has some kind of undergraduate physics degree from the Crocodile Dundee University of the Outback (at Woollagoolagong).

"I'm a Christian and find myself strongly challenged by passages in the Bible like Amos 5 and Matthew 25", he wrote.
"... I care about the same things that the God I believe in cares about – the plight of the poor and vulnerable."

Talk about unexpected – faith is hardly the de rigueur mindset in scientific circles, particularly when it is so
frequently associated with US right-wing Fox punditry, anti-science rhetoric, creationism and – bizarrely, in the
case of climate change – the Rapture. But in Cook's case, it made sense.

Feb 9, 2016 at 2:39 PM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

This is Cook's favourite climate change reference from the bible. Is he a sheep or a goat ?

Matthew 25:31-46New International Version (NIV)

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the
nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

Feb 9, 2016 at 2:48 PM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

I couldn't be bothered to watch much but it was the same old stuff - why don't leaders and the public believe us? Must be because we haven't dumbed it down enough. The media gets it wrong. Talk of using storeys to get their message across. We need to explain risk to excuse uncertainty. We need more on local effects. And we need lots of funding. Blah, blah.


The problems are thus:

1) You (warmists) haven't done enough by far to prove there's a significant problem. If you haven't convinced most educated rich people you aren't on the first rung, don't bother with anyone further down the food chain.

2) Nobody really knows what to do about it if it is a problem.

3) This kind of event is proof you're all a bunch of lying, cheating wastes of space, who couldn't solve anything even if you had a magic tool marked 'could solve everything'.

Feb 9, 2016 at 4:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

John Cook, in company with the Pope, fails to see that the War on Cheap Energy is a War on the Poor. If not the Lord, then perhaps the Poor can open their eyes.

Feb 9, 2016 at 5:00 PM | Unregistered Commenterkim

John Cook and other warmists seem to suffer from the Malthusian idea of survival of the richest. The poor won't need to worry about their grandchildren, because there won't be any.

Quite why John Cook is qualified to lecture on this, is another unanswered mystery known only to climate scientists, and the UN's IPCC.

Feb 9, 2016 at 6:34 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

kim & golf charlie

I suspect Malthusianism underlies a lot of the mendacity and general delinquency of the climate faithful. The peasants are killing the planet !

Feb 9, 2016 at 8:42 PM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

The problem with academics and their "communication strategies" is that it never occurs to them that communication is a two way process. Instead all they want to do is get the public to accept their ideas - irrespective of how stupid, irrelevant and politically motivated those ideas are.

So it's always the same - it's not communication - instead they just push their ideas like some cheap advertising for a cheap product which everyone knows will fall apart. And as they totally underestimate the intelligence of the public - who might not know the science - but they can sure spot a scam - the academics always think that a bit more cheap PR and mind games will somehow make a difference. But the public now watch an endless diatribe of far better marketing from people who know how to market to a generation that must be the most cyncial and toughened of all time. And somehow academics think a bit of cheap PR will turn the public into gormless gullible monkeys they need to lap up their stupid ideas.

It's not the public who are gormless and gullible - it's the academics who think cheap PR can sell useless pathetic "science".

Feb 9, 2016 at 9:46 PM | Registered CommenterMikeHaseler

Mike Haseler it is not communication, it is indoctrination and propaganda. At school in the 70s it was accepted that oil would run out by about 2000.

Why isn't the Guardian running Peak Oil stories any more? Is there a League table for scientivists/journalists who mentioned Peak Oil the most, and when did they realise they were hopelessly wrong?

Feb 9, 2016 at 10:15 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

What surprises me is why, when the PR, the indoctrination and the propaganda all have failed,. they do more of it rather than try another tack? They're using the same techniques that have already failed for World Peace and obesity. I know that those sorts of organisations exist to fritter money and achieve sod all but if they were genuinely concerned about AGW you'd think they'd want to avoid the same mistakes.

Feb 10, 2016 at 1:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

"... I care about the same things that the God I believe in cares about …”.
Great minds indeed.
Climate Change™ is going through the four stages of any product, introduction, growth, maturity and decline.
The quality market for C C™ is inevitably shrinking so the fabricators are desperately appealing to a cheaper customer and that’s where John (the mind inoculator — his phrase) Cook comes in.

Feb 10, 2016 at 7:15 AM | Unregistered CommenterChris Hanley

Cook should become more familiar with Deuteronomy 18:22. It speaks directly to the work he, Katherine Hahoe, and very sadly others who claim to be speaking in the name of God are up to. And Cook in particular should reflect on 2 Peter 2-3. It is almost as if the writer of those verses was watching him and his pals objectively.

Feb 10, 2016 at 12:06 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

Grist's surprising new advice for Alarmist communicators
#1 Don't use the word denier
#7 "Remember that no one knows what the future holds ...and that’s a good thing
Nobody knows enough to be a cock-sure pessimist. Not even Bill McKibben"

Via Climate Change Lies

Feb 11, 2016 at 6:32 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

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